Page 79 - AGL Sustainability Report 2011

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Sustainability Performance Report 2011 77
Environmental risk
The generation of noise is an unavoidable characteristic
of some of AGL’s business activities, notably generation
of electricity, and drilling undertaken as part of coal seam
gas and geothermal projects.
Additionally, many of AGL’s projects involve development of rural
land that is already occupied and used for other purposes by third
parties. The management of noise impacts is vitally important in
such settings, where background noise levels are low and amenity
expectations are high.
AGL’s upstream gas exploration and production projects involve
drilling wells to extract methane from coal formations deep below
the ground. The geology of a particular location influences the
type of drilling technique involved. Sometimes drilling needs to
be undertaken 24 hours per day, seven days per week. This makes
drilling one of the noisiest phases of AGL’s coal seam gas operations.
A number of activities are undertaken to minimise the likelihood
of offsite noise impacts associated with drilling operations. Well
locations are selected to avoid the likelihood of causing impacts
to sensitive receivers where possible. When drill rigs are selected,
consideration is given to minimising the noise footprint from the drill
rig and ancillary equipment. The drill rig and equipment is orientated
in a manner to minimise the noise impact. Acoustic noise barriers
are installed on the drill rig where loud equipment is identified,
and an acoustic noise wall can be erected on the perimeter of the
site if necessary. Internal and external noise monitoring is also
undertaken to ensure drilling operations remain below regulatory
compliance limits.
AGL’s wind farm projects are typically constructed on land that is
used for agricultural purposes. A standard condition of the necessary
development consent(s) is that both pre- and post-construction
noise monitoring is undertaken to ensure that, once operational,
the wind farm meets relevant Environmental Protection Authority
(EPA) guidelines.
Despite the best efforts being taken, AGL’s operations sometimes
cause offsite noise impacts. During FY2011, there were two noise
issues that arose in relation to AGL’s operations:
>> In response to concerns of a resident in the vicinity of AGL Hallett
2 Wind Farm, noise testing undertaken in November 2010
and May 2011 identifed tonality was above target at a nearby
residence. AGL and the engineering contractor have modifed
operations to address the issue, and are working with the resident
to identify a full solution. AGL is keeping the South Australian EPA
informed of progress.
>> Despite active management of potential noise impacts at the
Camden Gas Project, a noise complaint was received from a
resident in April 2011 in relation to an AGL generator located
nearby to the residence. Continuous noise loggers have been in
place since drilling commenced to show compliance with noise
criteria at the residence. Nevertheless, AGL installed an acoustic
enclosure on the generator exhaust to further minimise the noise.